William Thien

Archive for August 2014

One thing socialists and communists don’t want the public to know about socialism and communism is that the social programs they derive make things more expensive for those who are taxed to pay for the programs.

Let’s take rent assistance, for example. If you skim tax dollars off of the middle class (that’s where the money comes from) to redistribute it to pay for single women having children out-of-wedlock (nearly half of all babies born last year were born to single mothers), single mothers who need to stay home and take care of their babies, what is effectively happening is that an increase in the demand for rental housing is taking place and there is a corresponding supply of money, rent assistance dollars, to satisfy that demand. The socialists are using your money, tax dollars, to pay for that rent assistance. You are thinking, “Awe, isn’t that nice, I’m helping someone keep a roof over their heads.” But that’s only a small portion of it really, the good part.

The social programs put more money into the rental economy and thereby enable landowners to increase their rents. If all people don’t have enough money to pay the rent, landlords have to lower the rents. When demand is high, when money is available as in the form of rent assistance, prices are kept high, artificially high. The key word is “artificially” high. When demand is low, prices go down.

Now there is nothing wrong with landowners getting paid for renting their property, but social programs such as rent assistance are a double whammy to you and your dollar in that they totally undermine your very own housing dollar by working against it, driving the price of housing up for you and also taxing you for the dollars to do it! That’s what the socialists and communists don’t want you to know! They are forcing you to screw yourself right out of your very own place!

The same holds true for most major social programs and entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid, you name it. If you examine the cost of health care since the implementation of those two programs, what has happened? Recognize a pattern, yet?

Shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone. They don’t want you to know, either. I’m not supposed to say anything, or else!, they say.

The media doesn’t tell you, do they? No, they want people sitting at home in front of the television or making more babies on the rug in front of it. If people are working, they can’t watch TV. Only those who ascribe to the socialist system can stay at home and watch TV all the time because they get the check, the assistance, and the food stamps. And many do. One in six Americans now receives food stamps, almost fifteen percent of the population. How many of them are working?

Corporate media actually likes the socialist system because it creates a large audience of viewers that they can market their products to in order to get the money from the food stamps and assistance checks. Is it big business? No, ladies and gentlemen, it’s huge!

How about food stamps? We’ve been talking about that lately. As I’ve described, when you throw a bunch of money in to any market, prices go up. It’s basic economic theory. If the supply remains constant and demand increases, prices go up. When you put $74 billion dollars into the market economy demand increases and so prices go up. And prices have gone up, haven’t they?

There were some questions sent to me asking about how such assistance programs drive up the prices of things and as you can see, not only do social programs drive up the price of things you buy, they use your money to do it. That’s what the socialists and communists in the government don’t want you to know.

Well, what’s in it for the socialists and communists in the government, you ask? A job, a job helping you screw yourself it appears, and judging from the size and scope of social programs in the US in comparison to the 1950’s, apparently they take great pleasure in seeing to it. Maybe Senator McCarthy from Wisconsin was right. Yes, I suppose he was.

Shhh! I shouldn’t be telling you all of this, any of it.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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We have been hearing about rampant abuse of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps) a lot lately.

I don’t begrudge the growl of a hungry stomach, but the thing about putting so many people in the population on food stamps is that doing so adds a tremendous amount of money to the market. When money is scarce, prices go down. When money is available, prices go up. It’s just basic economic theory.

When you add so much money, $74 Billion dollars, $1617 on average per person using food stamps, when you add that kind of money to the market as in the case of the massive distribution of funds through SNAP, you create an unnatural market force driving up the price of food so that those who don’t use food stamps are suddenly paying more for their food but not receiving a corresponding increase in pay to do so.

In other words, food stamps make food more expensive for those not receiving food stamps! Food stamps weaken everyone’s dollar dramatically. What article of food was once a dollar is now two dollars, showing 100 percent inflation. Price controlled items such as milk and eggs do not see such dramatic inflationary increases but other items double and triple in price. What? Are we supposed to eat milk and eggs all the time? When we once could afford fresh meats, now we must choose processed meat and meat substitutes.

Just Wait. Some economist will conclude that in the future there will be a corresponding increase in heart disease and cancer as the population is driven to eating food substitutes resulting from the dramatically increased prices of groceries caused by SNAP. SNAP, the economist will conclude, is making the population unhealthy, that portion of the population that actually is taxed to pay for SNAP in the first place and can’t afford real food anymore because they have been priced out of the “real food” market due to SNAP! I’m sure the socialists will be able to spin that to the contrary. But many of them don’t do anything else, anyway. Some do, but that’s a subject for another day.

And not only are SNAP and other such programs driving up the costs for those not using the social programs, those not using SNAP are taxed to pay for SNAP. In other words, not only is the program driving up the prices for those not using SNAP, SNAP is also taxing you to pay to drive up the prices for you in the first place?

What? What are you saying, Bill? That’s pretty complicated. Not really. It’s like this. You are paying to make things that you need even more expensive. In an economic sense, you are using your own money against yourself! In essence, you are paying for something twice, perhaps three times when in reality you should only have to pay for things once. This is a prime example of what “real conservatives” refer to as the fallacy of government intervention.

As I said, I don’t begrudge someone who is hungry from using food stamps. But if the government is going to spend so much of the public’s money on food stamps and unnaturally drive up the cost of food for everyone who is not using food stamps, the government at least owes it to the public who is paying out-of-pocket to survive and also paying for the food stamps in the first place, the government owes it to them to police the SNAP program and other related programs with some fortitude and make sure that people are not using their SNAP benefits to pay for housing or to trade their benefits for cash and to then use that cash to purchase drugs and alcohol.

It’s only fair. Otherwise, maybe it’s time to cut the SNAP program back. There may in fact be no other way.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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An article appearing today on FoxNews.com indicates that massive fraud and abuse of the food stamp program SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has been discovered and there may be a need for more oversight.

The article mentions that $76 billion dollars was paid out to 47 million recipients during the reporting period used. Doing the math on those numbers is frightening and should raise sudden and urgent alarms about SNAP. If you divide 76 billion, or the dollars paid out, by 47 million, or the number of recipients, which should give you the amount per recipient (the money is not distributed equally by the way as some receive more than others), you receive an average amount of $1,617 and change per recipient. Obviously some are probably receiving much more, some less.

You should know that SNAP is not the only such support program and sometimes recipients are receiving funds from several such programs at once to include other benefits such as rent assistance and many other government programs. Food assistance is apparently one of the easiest programs to abuse and sell the benefits to obtain alcohol, cigarettes, and in this report from FoxNews.com, recipients are using the SNAP benefits to pay for housing, art, and cash.

Here is a link to the article: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/08/22/food-stamp-fraud-rampant-gao-report/

Someone I know and respect asked me to write something about the difficulty of finding a job these days on behalf of one of their loved ones and so here it is. This could very easily be about myself, though, or you.

Could it be that one of the reasons it is so difficult to get a job these days is because those who have the jobs make it so difficult to get the jobs in the first place? Or do they really have that many jobs to begin with? Are all of these numbers the government is always throwing around and employers are touting for real? Do they really have that many jobs or is there something else going on?

The reason I ask is that when I was younger, often getting a job meant asking someone, “Hey, I’m looking for work. Do you have anything right now?” If they had work and thought you could do it, they would put you right to work.

If you were still there at the end of the day, they would have you fill out an application which consisted of your name and address and where you’d worked previously and some contact information for those employers. You completed a tax statement regarding withholding from your check and that was it. Sometimes it was a little more complicated than that, sometimes less. But you were paid for that day’s work and hired if they asked you to come back. Not these days.

Today when you apply, many corporations make you complete an online application that frequently takes several hours of your time and requires that a rather intrusive, personal questionnaire to be answered. Many companies make you enact the actual job you will be doing by using role-playing software online that requires you to role play in the job of the potential employee. By the time you are finished with the application, often you have spent three or four hours, sometimes more of your time and still don’t have any response from the employer. You are working and not getting paid. I’m talking about the larger corporate employers of course, but many if not most have something similar involved nowadays. Is there a need for all of this pre-screening? To be sure, it has value, value in more ways than one of course as well shall see.

The reasoning behind it all is that employers believe they can acquire employees that are more suitable for the particular position and protect themselves from potential liability at the same time. And those are good reasons! But just as often employers are merely acquiring data on the person who wants to work there because the applicant also patronizes the place of business. People are known to apply to work at places they like to visit. In other words employers are telling applicants they have a job but instead what they are doing is testing the applicant in a marketing sense and acquiring extremely valuable data about your likes, interests, and financial position, in order to be more competitive.

To acquire that data by collecting it in another fashion, legitimately that is, they would have to pay an agency a lot of money. By having you answer some questions during the application process, they can essentially force you to provide the data to them for free. Employers are known to take a resume that you have sent to them in an email, populate it into a database, and then send you targeted advertisements based on the information, such as your hobbies and travel interests that you list in your resume, when you simply thought you were applying for a job. Employers are also known to accumulate information from all of the resumes they receive and create a picture of the potential customer by melding and merging information from all of the resumes. Not a bad idea in a business sense really, just a little bit unscrupulous, that’s all.

What’s really frightening is that the entire process dramatically increases your vulnerability to identity theft as your information is traded from one interested party to another. Your file is enlarged as more information is added along the way. Soon, someone, a corporation or a political party perhaps, is bound to have everything about you that they need to do whatever they want to you when all you were doing at the onset was looking for a job.

Let me add that I am a conservative and believe business needs to be able to function in the most unrestricted manner possible.

Yet I think the type of behavior I describe here should be regulated. At a time when many Americans are desperately looking for a “decent” job, many employers are taking advantage of the circumstances and doing just what I describe. I know others who have had to endure the same process over and over again never to hear from the potential employer once they jump through all the hoops. Kind of tells you something, doesn’t it?

That is why I believe the application process should be limited to merely asking the necessary questions to determine if the person is eligible to work in the particular environment in question and then a process should take effect whereby the applicant is promised reciprocal progress from the potential employer in some regard. In other words, there should be steps involved that require the employer to first check for potential employability for that particular position and then the employer requests that the potential employee carry on with the application process with certain promises involved.

Instead, what is happening is that many, many employers are doing what in the statistics business is called “Harvesting Data,” and they are abusing a population desperately in need of decent employment by testing them, poking and prodding them as they apply for work with no real ability or intent to employ each and every one who completes the surveys, questionnaires, the intrusive psychological batteries of questions that so many people looking for work must complete.

But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no! Once you complete all of that, many employers will make you take a drug screen, too, a drug screen often merely to earn minimum wage, after all of that other rigmarole.

They want to know about your driving record, have you ever been arrested, can they check your credit score, do you Facebook, do you have any debts, single, married, military service, education level, and the list goes on and on today. They don’t want to know if you can do the job and do it well, they want primarily to know “ABOUT” you. Employers buy and sell the information they receive from massive numbers of resumes after the information has been put in to databases. Yes! They do. It’s a source of profit.

They are not looking for a reason to hire you anymore; the entire process is backwards. They instead are looking for a reason NOT to hire you these days. It’s called screening. It’s always been done of course but now it is has become an intrusive, predatory, profitable practice. You could be the most competent, the most capable candidate for the job but perhaps your credit score is a little low. Maybe there is a picture of you on a web site at a party living it up. Maybe they hired some firm to check you out. You are out of contention! But you know what, they still have all of your information, don’t they? Yes, they do. And they will use it. You can bet on that. They don’t purge it.

How could they make any money off of your information if they purged it? In statistics you are now what is called a “case.” You have an electronic file at that corporation. When you were filling out that app, you know what they did? They left a “cookie” on your hard drive. If you didn’t remove it, now they know where you surf the internet. Now your file grows and grows. They know all about you. They may even find something interesting about you in your resume and begin searching for information about you on the internet and build that file so they can test you. Oh, yes. They do that. Make no mistake. You have to be careful when you apply at a corporation these days. Ever look at a corporation when you are driving by and ask you yourself, “I wonder what they make there?” Maybe they are making YOU! Why don’t you send them your resume?

So, no wonder it is so difficult to get a job. The actual process of getting a job is often working against you and it is in fact designed to work against you.

It wasn’t like that when I was younger. I can’t believe that somehow all Americans have become monsters that would destroy a corporation in a way that the application process indicates they all are. Maybe it is the other way around. Maybe the reason people are having trouble getting jobs these days is because employers are making the task of getting a job simply too difficult and instead profiting from the process at the same time in what some might say is a predatory fashion. Yes, maybe that’s what is happening. Or maybe there is no “maybe” about it. By the time you complete the entire process, some “holier than thou” person you never meet has found some selection you have made online in the application process they didn’t like or you don’t match “the profile,” when instead all they really are doing is “harvesting data” only to use it against you in a sales pitch perhaps to profit from your need to work.

You might ask, well if the unemployed aren’t working, they don’t have any money, why would they want to market to them in the first place? Quite the opposite. Marketers focus intently on the unemployed because many of the unemployed are receiving weekly benefits and not working. They have leisure time, time to spend their benefit money. Marketers also focus on single women having children out-of-wedlock who receive government benefits. Last year over forty percent of children were born to single mothers, nearly half. It’s a huge market. HUGE! It’s a science.

You often hear employers clamoring that they can’t get enough trained people in the US and they want to hire from outside the US. They want the State Department to increase US work visas for foreign nationals. Why? They claim that there are not enough US applicants. Why? Because the system of hiring has screened any potential US citizens out! The US produces more thoroughly trained applicants than any other place in the world and does it well. It’s just that the hiring process precludes many of them from working in The US. And the employers want a tax break for hiring foreign nationals, too! Go figure.

Some might say, “Bill, stop it. You are killing us. We are trying to do business here.” My response, “It’s a flawed business model. You don’t treat your customers that way. That’s not how you treat the American public.”

It’s time to regulate the job application process.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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To me it is surprising how little most people realize how socialized The United States is and how much money is taken from the middle classes and given to either the very rich or the poor in terms of tax breaks or social programs.

But a country without a middle class is really just a master and servant society in a way where the many work for the few.

The cost of social programs has a devastating effect on the middle classes because the wealthy know how to hide their wealth and they write the tax code while the poor don’t pay many taxes. Socialism enslaves the middle classes, then, even if not by design as it is the middle classes that end up paying the majority of taxes in terms of a percentage of their income, squeezed between an ever growing population of poor Americans and an increasingly powerful wealthy class as money has now become defined as speech and the media takes the money with a glad hand. Eventually the middle classes are turned in to lower economic classes due to the structure of the socialistic tax code. Many believe that is in fact happening today. They call it the “Shrinking Middle Class.” You may have heard that term in the evening news. I’ve just explained what is happening, that’s all, even if they haven’t.

This is why I support a flat tax.

But we must also curtail social programs and certain tax breaks as it is the redistribution of wealth which is administered and it is the cost of administering the redistribution of wealth that amplifies the burden upon the middle classes.

What? What did you say?

I said, it is not only the money that is paid to the recipients of the social programs and the tax breaks given to the wealthy that is expensive, someone is paid to redistribute all of that money and provide and write those tax breaks, and those people are well paid usually. Paying them is an added cost which significantly magnifies the burden upon the working and middle classes. It’s not just the money paid to the recipients of the social programs that is costly; you also have to pay those who give your money away. Oh yeah, they never talk about that part, do they? That figures.

Some think the answer is just to cancel social programs altogether, but is that really the best solution? The media always offer bleak pictures of the country were we to discontinue social programs overnight. I have a solution.

Instead of canceling social programs outright, the country should begin to wean the population off of social programs over a ten-year period, for example. To simply take away all of the food stamp benefits that it is believed well over 40 percent of the population are currently obtaining, nearly half of the country, to take away all of those benefits would have an economic effect similar to the withdrawals that an addict who is addicted to a nasty drug would have when you took their drug away without providing any substitute. A country on cold turkey anti-socialism would exhibit some nasty withdrawals, I’m sure. Widespread civil strife. Small scale wars perhaps. But is that necessary? Please, read on.

So many people are currently receiving food stamps, so many single women are receiving benefits to raise children out-of-wedlock, and so many corporations are receiving tax breaks for producing products for which there is insufficient demand that to simply take away all of those benefits would send the country into a state of downward spiraling economic withdrawal. That is in fact what happened at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of communism in Eastern Europe in the early 1990’s. Massive poverty and starvation resulted in the former Soviet Bloc countries and eastern Germany. It was because the changes to the economy happened too quickly and nobody knew what was going to happen. We know now.

Stepping down, stepping away one step at a time from socialism is the answer if we are to unburden the middle classes from the massive weight and insult of socialist taxation. Otherwise the massive economic withdrawals which might result from a sudden cancellation of all of the social programs might simply convince that portion of society which believes in the socialist dogma that socialism is the only way because in the end, they know no other way.

That is the only way to relieve the middle classes of the heft of the socialist system.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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So I’ve been kind of getting sick of these gas prices holding above $3 and often approaching $4 and $5 for the last six or seven years with no relief in sight and it occurs to me as it has to those of you who lived through the seventies I’m sure that there were measures we all took which in the end lowered the price of gasoline back to a reasonable level. OPEC as well as domestic oil producers were trying to squeeze every dollar they could out of the American household.

The measures that were taken not only involved driving by using certain methods such as trip chaining (doing all of your errands at one time instead of returning home after each one) and driving more conservatively (where I reside the governor was lauded for establishing a lower speed limit on the interstate), but the methods used to bring fuel prices down also involved curtailing the use of other forms of energy, such as the electricity you purchased from the local utility. And it worked.

And it was in fact the curbing of the use of other forms of energy it was believed that contributed the greatest to the lowering of the price of gasoline for automobiles. I don’t really know the exact explanation except that somehow the various sources of energy, oil, coal, natural gas, whatever, were able to somehow interlink their prices so that if the price of one went up, so did the prices of all of the others. It was a new form of economic charlatanism that the media force-fed the American public at the instruction of the special interests involved, big oil for instance, I’m sure.

And a national effort was created to lower the price of gasoline and all energy sources. That national effort involved taking certain steps in the home to curb the use of electricity and fuel. Perhaps if we revisit those methods, we can help to bring the price of gasoline back in line. Who knows? They may be cooking up some new line in the big oil PR departments for the media to spew to the public which will justify new price increases. Even municipalities got it on it. They started turning off streetlights in the very early hours of the morning and turning off streetlights in industrial areas where there was not traffic whatsoever. Municipalities also began installing low energy use lights throughout their cities and towns. It was a huge effort and it worked.

The first thing you must do is elect or designate an “Energy Cop” for the household. Usually both parents will split those responsibilities with such wise admonitions as, “SHUT THE DOOR! What do you think, we are heating the WHOLE PLANET!?” Or, “If you aren’t watching the television, turn it off or I’ll take away your TV privileges for the month.” These directions will come as loud, sometimes blaring, in-your-face warnings and are usually effective enough to gain compliance, but stricter measures are sure to follow if the offending party fails to comply.

Remember, make a list of what must be done to save energy and put it in an obvious place so everyone in the house can see it.

I will attempt to recall some of the methods we used in the seventies to bring the price of gasoline in line. First, create a plan and put it on paper in a place where everyone can see it, a list of rules for managing household energy. Put the list on the refrigerator or somewhere where everyone can see it and you can point to it if there is every a question in the house.

Put these on that list:

1. If you are not in a room, turn off the lights. The same holds true for a radio or television. Turn them off and read a book.

2. Turn off porch and landscaping lights by a certain time, such as 8pm. Stick to that time.

3. Use a shorter cycle on the dishwasher or clothes washer. Hang dry your laundry.

4. Buy plastic sheeting to use as added insulation during the winter months and place it over windows and other places where air leaks through from the outside. Separate areas of the house with added doors or cloth barriers in the winter to decrease air leakage. Contact your local insulation technician and have them do a review of the house where heat is escaping. They probably can lower your heating bills substantially by insulating areas you didn’t even think needed more insulation.

5. Don’t go in and out of the door frequently during periods of extreme cold or warmth so as not to tax the heating or air conditioning. This is an important measure and if you follow it, you will see your heating and air conditioning bills drop significantly. Why? Because you use a thermostat to regulate the room temperature and even slight temperature changes can activate it causing your heating or air conditioning to come on.

6. Keep your thermostat at or below 60 degrees in the winter and 72 in the summer.

7. Cool liquids by placing them in cool spaces in the home instead of filling up the refrigerator with them. It takes a substantial amount of energy to bring the temperature of a case of beverages down to 36 degrees when they have been sitting in the back seat of your car in the hot summer sun.

These are just some of the measures you can take to bring your electricity and heating costs down and by doing so it may help to bring the price of gasoline back to reasonable levels. It’s no guarantee. The media is complicit or perhaps ignorant of the big oil PR line in the abuse of the prices, I believe, so you will have to be alert to the media line which is coming straight from the producers. I’ve said there is nothing wrong with making a buck. And I believe that. But when it means sending families into debt as it does for many merely to drive to work, there is a problem. One way we can all address that problem then is to help out by using such measures as I’ve described.

When Americans began enacting these measures in the seventies, when they said it was only a matter of two or three years before all the oil would be gone (yes, they tried that line of BS on everyone and it worked! People were scared, lining up at gas stations for blocks and blocks. Now we see it was all a lie to which the media facilitated), Americans began to see the price of oil and other fuel sources go down.

There was no way for the producers to keep the prices up any longer because the amount of fuel used was actually being measured and reported and the amount used had plummeted. They could not say that demand had exceeded capacity any longer. Prices had to come down. They had to come down because that was the line they were using to drive prices up in the first place.

So if you want that new tennis racket or your kids need a new pair of shoes for school but you don’t have the scratch, just think of what you can do to change that and stop throwing it all away by putting your paycheck in your car or burning it up to heat the house.

Make the list, put it on the refrigerator, and hold everyone in the house to it. You are the “Energy Cop.”

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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Recently the gubernatorial election where I reside has entered into a debate on the subject of outsourcing. One of the candidates is a family member of a large corporation that outsources most of its labor to China. One candidate accused the other of undermining the economy by outsourcing while the other candidate accused their opponent of not creating enough jobs. The debate began when one candidate made an increase in the minimum wage to $10 per hour part of her platform while the other accused her of being hypocritical because the company to which she is affiliated outsources most of it labor to China and pays those workers less than $2 per hour.

As you know, my position is that politicians don’t create private sector jobs in the first place; they create an environment which stimulates private sector job growth. But even that is limited.

Politicians promise jobs because they know how desperate Americans are for good jobs because, well in this case, one of the candidates is directly associated with a corporation that outsources a lot of potentially good American jobs. It’s a valid issue for any campaign, if you ask me.

Let’s examine this matter further.

The debate has centered or perhaps has been steered towards the belief that companies have outsourced generally because labor costs are too high here in The United States and that environmental regulations and other regulatory matters make it impossible to manufacture here in The United States.

All of that of course is false. Americans are considered the best industrial employees having higher education levels and greater reliability and are considered more productive in many cases.

The real reason companies outsource is that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and communism in general around the globe, suddenly there were six billion people ready to work for pennies on the dollar, whereas before companies were prohibited from using such labor due to restrictions related to political matters. When the Berlin Wall came down suddenly companies had a chance to make obscene profits by utilizing the sudden supply of cheap labor whereas prior they were merely just doing well. Clinton then gave China Most-Favored-Nation Trading Status. That coupled with the North American Free Trade Agreement, also ratified during The Clinton Administration, pretty much shut the American assembly line down. As I’ve said before, it was almost as if President Clinton himself went to the end of the assembly line and threw the switch, bringing it to a halt.

Industrialists then blamed the so-called high cost of union labor in order to justify the outsourcing. Manufacturers blamed restrictive over-regulation. The media bought it like a cheap Chinese suit and now that’s almost all you can find anywhere.

The real reason companies in The US, and much of the western world for that matter, have outsourced much if not most of their industrial production is due to the chance for a massive increase in profits, the chance to make obscene profits in many cases. Let’s face it, the real reason many companies have outsourced is because of greed.

Now that the American worker can’t afford to buy such products anymore, many companies are reconsidering their short-sighted production strategies and they are bringing their production facilities back to The United States or no longer outsourcing to other producers. Many believe those jobs are never coming back. Though most experts agree that it is, let’s hope it’s not too late.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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